I am feeling a little bit nostalgic today. My dear friend, Tenille, who is five months pregnant with her fifth child, just found out that she has stage two Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and my heart is heavy.
Tenille and I met in the dorms when we were both new freshman at BYU. She was a six-foot tall ball of optimism, energy, and fun. We became fast friends. She, along with several other wonderful people, became like my family away from home.
I have so many fun memories from that time in my life. Those friends helped to shape me into the adult that I am today.
We visited Temple Square on several occasions. We attended General Conference together, and sat way up near the front. We had the unique and wonderful opportunity to meet President Hinckley in his office when he was the prophet. He was a man of such wisdom, power, love, and optimism, and that came across clearly in the five minutes that we spoke with him. That experience is one that I still treasure.
Then we started sending those boys off on missions.
And watching the girls get married.
Then life took us in a million different directions. Yet the memories remain – memories of friendship turned family. Memories of late night study groups, trips to Tenille’s farm in Idaho, tunnel singing, and playing “Tanner Tag” in the Tanner Building on BYU campus. Memories of going to a temple session with Tenille on Valentine’s Day when she was trying to decide whether or not she should marry her husband, Shaun. Memories of being in the audience of a BYU choir concert while she and my husband, Greg, were on stage singing. Before the concert, he was back stage talking to her when he realized that he should have been on stage…on the other side of the stage. So, he ran behind the audio shell, tripped and fell flat on his back, and has had back trouble ever since. Memories…
When I received the news yesterday that she was fighting for her life and the life of her unborn child, it threw me for a loop. This amazing, faithful, optimistic friend said: “I know this word cancer is super scary today, but Shaun and I have never felt the love and guidance of our Savior more than we have felt it these past couple weeks. We know everything is going to be great. We are truly blessed.”
How does she do it? How does she keep that perspective when things are so tough? She has amazing faith, and it inspires me. It inspires me to get to know my Savior better so that I can also feel that same peace in times of heartache and trial. It makes me want to step up my game – to live life more fully – to focus on the things that are the most important and let the meaningless things go. Her faith and optimism give me hope – not only hope for her, her unborn child, and the rest of her sweet family – but also hope that, although this world is full of challenges, those challenges don’t have to break us. Instead, if we draw close to the Savior, they can strengthen us and others around us. They can mold us, refine us, and prepare us for greater things.
At some point, we all have that defining moment – the one that rocks us to the core and forces us to decide who we are and where we stand. I want to have the courage to smile through the tears, to trust the Lord more completely, and to forge ahead when the path takes a steep uphill turn. I want to be a rock in a world of shifting values and lost perspective. I want to be more like Tenille.
So, fight on, sweet friend. Although your fight is just beginning, you are already strengthening my faith and that of so many others. With God all things are possible.